A couple weeks ago, the shop I go to replaced my lower control arms. This is probably unrelated to my current problem, but can't hurt to mention it. Also, a couple weeks before that, they had to replace the idler pulley for the A/C. The A/C worked fine after that, and my very minor fan belt squealing noise disappered. All seemed well, except they noticed more play in the front wheels than there should be. Hence the replacement of the lower control arms, which fixed that problem.
About a week later, I noticed that if the engine was cold and I needed to turn the wheel sharply, as in backing out of the garage, I would hear a "moaning" sound when the wheel was cranked to near maximum (I never turn it to full right or left as I've heard this can be bad for the power steering pump.) After the car was warmed up, I would rarely hear this sound. I figured next service I would have them look to see if something was rubbing, etc.
Then, yesterday, something suddenly changed dramatically. The second I start the engine, I hear a loud metalic scraping sound, occurring at about one second intervals.
It's a bit like the sound of two files being rubbed together, and lould enough to be noticeable and alarming even with the engine sounds, the seat belt warning alarm going off (I always start the engine, then put on my belt, etc., giving the engine a few extra seconds to get the oil circulated.
I don't dare start the car now.. I'm afraid I will add a bunch of zeros to the end of whatever the repair bill turns out to be!
Anybody got any ideas?
Also, a possibly related question. When the engine is cold.. having sat overnight, should the fluid level in the radiator be very low? I can see all the way to the bottom of the plates.. and there is crud in there. The shop had told me the next thing that usually goes is the radiator.. although the temp guage is right where is should be and the heat works fine.
I'm not very automotive-litterate, and so am not sure what's going on. Only that it began recently, and suddenly got MUCH worse yesterday.
My tentative plan is to have the car flat-bedded to the shop and get a rental or loaner while they figure it out. I don't dare drive it, or even let the engine idle.
Sorry for the rambling.. it's Sunday morning and I'm a bit flipped out. Maybe I should sell this thing and buy a Honda Civic! I have this feeling that I might be entering the phase where I get nickle and dimed to death keeping it running right.